Sony says its customers should avoid upgrading their Android devices to Ice Cream Sandwich, adding that many of them won't get the option anyway.
In a blog posting on Sony's Developer World the company explains why the latest version of Google's mobile OS uses a lot more memory and is slower than its predecessor, not to mention being less stable on underpowered kit. Sony leaves it up to customers to decide if the bling-laden interface is worthwhile.
It's not the improved interface of Ice Cream Sandwich that is consuming all that additional memory; Sony reckons the ICS web browser needs an additional 20 to 30MB of RAM just for a bit of surfing, and that the support for hardware-accelerated graphics across the board means even things as mundane as the Settings app need a couple of MB more than they used to.
That leads to memory shortages, which in turn forces Android to shut down background activities such as the home screen or dialler to make space. So when a user quits a game there's a delay in restarting those apps, making the system appear slow.
Moving SQL access to data into Java has also slowed things down. Gingerbread, the previous version of Android, used native libraries for database operations which was fast but not in keeping with the spirit of Android. Hoisting them up into the Java layer is ideologically better, but comes at the cost of performance.
A booting application that has to load all its graphics into memory, to enable hardware acceleration, and then does a load of SQL stuff, could take longer than five seconds to respond to a system query which is unacceptable to the Android OS, which promptly generates an error.
Sony says it will have ICS available for the Xperia arc S, Xperia neo V and Xperia ray in the next month or so, with the rest of the Xperia range following on by early June - but the upgrade won't be pushed out to devices as Sony reckons Ice Cream Sandwich is a dish not every Xperia user will like the taste of. ®